In efforts to bring a little education and wonder to our Florida vacation, we took Zoe and Felix to Kennedy Space Center. Dan and I had visited Kennedy Space Center during our winter trip ( and previously as children), so we had a good idea of where we wanted to focus our time.
The Kennedy Space Center is huge. When we visited in the winter, we stayed from opening until closing and didn't see it all. We knew that the kids couldn't handle spending an entire day. It would just be too much. We were blown away by the entire presentation of the Space Shuttle Atlantis, so that is where we focused our energy.
We arrived prior to opening, giving us plenty of time to purchase tickets and take a few pictures.
The Atlantis presentation is phenomenal. It starts with a multi-screen video presentation, that ends with a clever reveal of the actual Atlantis Space Shuttle. I was most excited to see Zoe and Felix's reaction, which didn't disappoint. They were blown away.
After Atlantis, we spent about an hour in the Atlantis building, which is filled with educational and interactive exhibits. The kids really liked climbing through a clear tube tunnel that was on the second level: not for those who fear heights! We also rode The Shuttle Launch Experience, a simulator ride. The ride itself is fairly tame, but the preshow is a bit intense. It made Felix really nervous and he didn't ride.
The constellation globe is like a magnet for kids.
Next we took the bus tour to the Apollo/ Saturn V Center. Although this is a "not-to-be-missed" part of Kennedy Space Center, it was too much for the kids. They really enjoyed everything in the Atlantis building, but they were ready to call it quits and head back for an afternoon by the pool. If we lived in Florida or if we had more days on our vacation, it would have been wise to buy a multi-day pass and do the bus tour on a different day. It didn't help that our bus driver wasn't very enthusiastic and he was difficult to understand.
When we reached the Apollo/Saturn V Center, we skipped the main presentation ( which is great, should not be missed) and went straight to the Moon Rock Cafe for a quick lunch. When Dan and I visited in winter, we splurged on the "Lunch with an Astronaut" experience, which was a buffet meal and a Q/A session with an Astronaut. It was a great experience. It was spendy and we didn't know if they kids would be at the right age to appreciate it, but I wish we had gone for it. Eating at The Moon Rock Cafe was expensive, crowded, and underwhelming. It fed into our general vibe of needing to call it a day.
We briefly looked at the exhibits in the Apollo/Saturn V Center, including touching a moon rock.
Recently, we were talking to Felix about our trip to the Kennedy Space Center and he remembered the gators. He was a little freaked out about the gators. It was his biggest memory of the day; to be fair he was only six at the time. We did see several gators sunning themselves in the waterways as we were on the bus tour.
We didn't see any Sandhill Cranes.
Zoe told us all about Sweden's astronauts. It's cool to hear what she's learning about in her country. I'm always impressed with how much my step kids know about the world around them: science, politics, history, et...
Last stop was the rocket garden.
After Kennedy Space Center, we drove to Coco Beach. Unfortunately, a storm was rolling in, which made for dramatic pictures, but cut the playtime short. We had just enough time for a quick dip in the Atlantic.
On a future trip, we'd likely plan to spend a few days at Coco Beach, rather than spending the entire time in Orlando. Florida just has so much to offer for a vacation, that it's impossible to do it all on one trip.